Bali official cautions closure of spiritual community after controversial crowded event

House of Om, a spiritual community/holistic school is located in Gianyar regency and about a half hour drive from the center of Ubud. Photo: Unsplash
House of Om, a spiritual community/holistic school is located in Gianyar regency and about a half hour drive from the center of Ubud. Photo: Unsplash

Gianyar regent I Made Mahayastra has reportedly cautioned the closure of spiritual community House of Om following an event last week that drew dozens of people who blatantly ignored social distancing protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Made Gede Wisnu Wijaya, secretary of the Gianyar regency, confirmed that the regent directly admonished House of Om during a meeting this morning, adding that community founder Wissam Barakeh had promised to not make the same mistake. 

“The presence of [the guests] were unplanned, and the regent has firmly said that if he repeated [the act], the sanction is closure [of House of Om],” Wisnu said.

House of Om has been the subject of online ire since the weekend for allegedly hosting a crowded gathering last Thursday, following the circulation of photos believed to have been from the event, which showed dozens of people gathering in close proximity with no masks on. Many were upset that the spiritual community/holistic school held the event despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Bali and the rest of Indonesia. 

Officials said that, during the meeting, Barakeh said he had no intention to violate existing health protocols amid the coronavirus outbreak. However, a now-deleted post on Instagram by House of Om which invited people to join them for the event included their intention to gather more than 100 people “in order to co-create an amazing celebration together.”

Related – Spiritual community in Bali under fire for hosting crowded gathering, ignoring social distancing

Bali reported 36 additional COVID-19 cases today, bringing the provincial tally to 1,116, which includes 639 recoveries and nine deaths. The province has also been recording rising cases of local transmissions, which now makes up more than half of its total caseload. 

Barakeh initially denied to a local media outlet that the photos were from a recent event, but eventually took to Instagram yesterday morning to apologize and claim full responsibility for the event that did take place on June 18. 

Barakeh confirmed this morning’s meeting with Gianyar regent to Coconuts Bali via WhatsApp, adding that he will be issuing an official statement. We will update this story as soon as we hear back from him.

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CITY: BALICATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: HEALTH, VIRAL

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